10 New Year’s Resolutions I Keep Now That I’m in Recovery

By Denny KolschJanuary 1, 2017

I’m a person in recovery from opioid addiction (13 years).

I’m also a licensed mental health counselor.

Both of these realities require me to live my life in a certain way if I’m going to stay healthy and free of relapse in 2017.

These are the resolutions I keep now that I’m in recovery:

Remind myself daily to slow down and be present.

This goes directly against the addicted brain, which is always chasing something else. The New Year is an ideal time to reset the compulsive tendency to always be doing something.

Focus on what is most important.

The more I’m able to focus on what’s most important in my life, the more likely I’ll be able to resist acting out addictive behavior.

Move my body.

My profession as a psychotherapist causes me to sit way too much. Not moving my body sets me up for stress, anxiety, and depression…a recipe for relapse. I used to think exercise meant going to the gym, running, or doing some kind of at-home workout program. Now I’m realizing it doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I’m increasing flexibility, mobility, and strength.

Be honest with myself.

Self-deception and denial is a core characteristic in relapse behavior. The more I can take an honest look at my life, the less likely I’ll be to lie to myself about addictive behaviors.

Be vulnerable with others.

Being fully honest with myself isn’t possible without other people speaking into my life, and other people speaking into my life isn’t possible without me being able to be courageous enough to be emotionally vulnerable.

Spend time with people in recovery.

Sharing life with people inspires and encourages me to live a life of recovery. I need to do more of it.

Set boundaries between work and home.

Balancing all dimensions of my life is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. Without being able to put down my phone and redirect my attention to the people that matter most, I risk putting less important things in front of more important ones…another recipe for relapse.

Take a sabbatical.

This resolution sums up the rest. A sabbatical is a traditional practice of self-care. One month in May is the plan.

Read more, iPhone less.

This resolution has more to do with honoring my personality needs. In the language of the Enneagram, I’m a 5. That partly means I need to make space for understanding reality in new ways. For me, reading has historically been a means to this end. And it doesn’t happen very effectively with an iPhone in my hand.

Take a quarterly inventory of my life.

In psychotherapy, treatment planning is fundamental to making changes. It requires setting short-term and long-term goals. Doing this for my own life is an effective way to hold myself accountable to the way I’m intending to live my life throughout the year.

Recovery is hard work. Living life intentionally is challenging in today’s world, but it’s necessary if I’m going stay healthy and sober.

What do you need to do to become the person you hope to be this year?

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Comments (4)

  1. Sara Keith

    Thank you so much for sharing these tips 🙂 as someone who is healing from anxiety and emetaphobia- induced anorexia, I find these very timely tips. Even though I have been in recovery for almost 5 years, (less with anxiety), self care is something I am learning. By God’s grace, this next year will be full of positive healing and steps further into the wonderful world of healing.

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  2. Jeanie smart

    This is great Denny.. I especially liked your mention of being vulnerable. Being authentic is something I have been working on this past year and it’s not the easiest thing to do,, it frees us as well as those with whom we engage!
    So much good stuff in here – would be interested in how you plan on taking a sabbatical for a month. Maybe another article?
    I will be meditating on this and journaling as well.

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  3. Middlefore

    I’ve been struggling since I was 17 I have cronic pain so I have to be very careful with my prescription but I haven’t used in a while now over a yr

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  4. Wynford Ellis Owen

    Thanks for these. I find focusing on the important few and not the trivial many helps as well, as does using fear as a reason to do something rather than as an excuse not to. Happy new year, w c

    Reply  |  
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